Winter '14 Flash Fiction 1st Place Winner, Barbara Stark-Nemon
interview by Marcia Peterson
WOW: Congratulations on your first place win in our Winter 2014 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?
Barbara: I want the thank WOW for providing this great opportunity to me and for all the quality content you bring to writers!
I have been receiving newsletters from WOW for over a year now and find them chock full of useful information. When WOW promoted the January 2014 webinar Self-Publishing at the Edge, I signed up and also noticed the flash fiction contest. What a great opportunity to expand my writing presence! The incident described in my entry, Lambs to Slaughter is a seminal scene I’m developing for my second novel, currently in progress. It was so invigorating to turn to a short project in the midst of all the editing and other tasks to prepare my first book for publication.
WOW: Thank you for the kind words about WOW! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, Like Lambs to Slaughter? As a parent to two teenagers, I found it to be a particularly moving story.
Barbara: Adolescence is a tough row to hoe for parents and kids under the best of circumstances. It’s continuous hard work to reconcile our own expectations for our children with who we think they are as people, and what our schools and communities expect of them. We hope that they become competent, independent, happy and productive adults. As a teacher and a parent and an all-around people observer, I’ve learned that sometimes, even when you’ve tried every last way to do everything right (and who can achieve that?), you have to stretch and do the seemingly impossible to provide what your child needs. Somewhere in there, you’re also supposed to take care of yourself and the rest of your family … Parents who do their best to meet this challenge are my heroes.
WOW: Your first novel is set to be published next year—how exciting! What was the road to publication like for you?
Barbara: Even in Darkness is based on a true story. The woman on whom the main character, Klare, is based, had such a profound personal impact on me, and her story was so unusual and inspiring that fifteen years ago, I decided I had to write it. (Writing a novel was at the top of my bucket list.) I began to do the extensive interviewing and international research and travel that informs the book. (See the ‘Extras’ section on my website www.barbarastarknemon.com for more about the research.) Then I lucked into a wonderful writer’s group, and a group of supportive artist friends. Their encouragement and incisive reading and editing have been invaluable. When my manuscript won a contest at the San Miguel Writer’s conference, I began pitching agents and continued editing and rewriting. While many agents liked my work and asked for more of the manuscript, I was told its genre was “hard to sell.”
As I read and heard more and more about the collapse of the traditional publishing industry, and still believing in my book, I started to investigate self-publishing. She Writes Press’ concept of “curated” self-publishing appealed to me as a first time author and I decided I was willing to put the time and resources into publishing a quality book with them. It’s been a long but fulfilling process.
WOW: Congratulations on your achievements so far, and please let us know when the book becomes available to read. What's one bit of advice you would give to aspiring writers?
Barbara: Start bringing your writing to the eyes of others earlier than you think you’re ready. Start a writer’s group, begin working on a writer’s platform- blog, create a simple website, use social media. Collect the snippets of ideas and scenes that bubble up and write them down. When a story won’t let you go, go with it! And of course, read, read, read. Be generous with other writers and with yourself. (Not exactly ONE bit of advice!) Oh, and visit me at my website www.barbarastarknemon.com, or FB https://www.facebook.com/starknemon or Twitter @bstarknemon to tell me how it’s going.
WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Barbara. Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?
Barbara: Again, thank you so much for having me.
Set a budget of time and entry fees and start entering. Be a little systematic. Make your entry work for you, either as an outright exercise to improve your craft or as a contribution to a work in progress or your writing platform.
Our Summer 2014 Flash Fiction contest is OPEN
For details, visit: http://wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php